Project Rachel offers healing from abortion
God’s mercy is an ocean so vast we cannot begin to fathom its depths. His mercy can cleanse us from even the worst sins, for God wants us to be fully alive and whole and to live in His Love. Do you believe this? It can be hard for people stricken with guilt for the choices they have made. This is often true of women who have undergone an abortion (or anyone complicit in an abortion); their sense of shame and unworthiness can be overwhelming.
That is why the post-abortion healing ministry of Project Rachel is so essential. An official ministry of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of La Crosse and throughout the United States, Project Rachel offers healing and hope. It begins with a confidential phone call (or email) to a diocesan volunteer chosen and trained for her ability to listen with love.
The caller is often a woman who has mustered enormous courage just to be able to reach out for help. She may have suffered silently for years, keeping the painful secret of her abortion to herself. Trembling inside as she picks up the phone, she feels a combination of hope and fear. Will she be judged harshly, condemned? No, she will not. She will be received with compassion, her story will be heard, and even in that, the healing process can begin.
Somewhere in the process of being listened to with love—which may involve one conversation or several—the caller might ask for a referral to a priest or a therapist for help with spiritual or emotional healing or both. If so, the volunteer would have some recommended names to draw from. There are also opportunities to attend a post-abortion healing retreat, which can have a powerful, life-changing impact.
Much evidence for the effectiveness of Project Rachel can be found on its national website, hopeafterabortioncom. What follows is one of many testimonials from “Your Own Words” on that site:
One Person’s Story
My personal journey of healing began after six long years of the most deafeningly silent pain. Six years of the heaviest regret. Just as profound as my deep need to turn back the clock was my triumphant return to who I once was, thanks solely to Project Rachel.
I remember during those dark years, I would wake up each morning, and for a few brief seconds, all was well. Then, I would remember what I had done. The grief was all-consuming. But, like so many other women, I kept it locked inside. I had accepted my fate. I was unforgivable. The enormity of what I had done actually made my steps heavier. Even my shoulders hung lower. I cried alone almost daily. For brief periods, I could take my mind off of it. Sometimes, I would even forget long enough to try and enjoy a comedy at the movies, but then mid-laughter, I’d remember, and my laughing would stop because, well, I didn’t deserve to laugh.
Growing up in a Catholic family that attended Mass every Sunday, I never expected that I, of all people, would be in this situation. I convinced myself that I had committed an unforgivable act. I felt utterly alone. I desperately needed to connect with other women who were suffering as I was, and I longed to be the woman I used to be. And then, one fateful Sunday morning during Mass, my husband handed me a church bulletin, pointing out the words on the back: “Project Rachel — a program for post-abortion healing through the diocese.” I couldn’t believe my eyes.
It took me several months to muster up the nerve to call. I had done a fine job of beating myself up for years, and I certainly didn’t need the person on the other end of the phone to make me feel any worse. But when I finally called, it was not like that at all. The voice at the other end was warm and full of hope for me. My journey of healing began on the day that I made that phone call.
Thanks to Project Rachel, I am me again. The retreat allowed me the opportunity to experience God’s love and forgiveness — something I had decided I was not worthy of. Little did I know that God was there, all along, offering me His love.
Project Rachel literally lit the path for me…. The warmth of God’s love engulfed me. Furthermore, I connected with other women who knew the despair that I knew, and we could experience the joy of receiving the gifts of hope and healing together. I actually feel lighter. The power of forgiveness is life-altering. I am happy again, and the people whom I love sense that. I will always regret my decision and continue to carry my quiet secret with me. It has become a part of who I am, but it no longer defines who I am.
If post-abortion pain and trauma are affecting you or someone you know, don’t delay. A call to Project Rachel can begin the process of healing. A compassionate, listening ear and God’s boundless mercy awaits.
Do you know someone who is carrying the grief and sorrow of past abortions? Project Rachel, an official ministry of the Catholic Church, offers a compassionate heart and confidential help. In the Diocese of La Crosse, you can get help by calling 608.860.6698 or 833.373.4400 or by sending an email to [email protected].
Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend Retreats for Post-Abortion Healing
These weekend retreats, held throughout the United States and around the world, are for anyone who has struggled with the aftermath of abortion. Each weekend is run by a team of trained volunteers (a counselor, a priest, and lay people). Often, some members of the team have undergone post-abortion healing themselves and thus have a personal understanding of what that means. These retreats are being offered in the Diocese of Madison on March 15-17, 2024, and again on Nov. 8-10, 2024. More information can be found at madisondiocese.org/rachel
Growing up in a Catholic family that attended Mass every Sunday, I never expected that I, of all people, would be in this situation.”
Director of the Office for Ministries and Social Concerns
Published in the January/February 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine